Two and a Half Goals Column: International weekend special

8Jun 2013

Betfair

The domestic football season may have finished, but The Inside Man has gone all International this weekend as he searches out the value in the Under/Over 2.5 Goals markets...

Saturday

Switzerland v Cyprus

We'll start with World Cup qualifying action, where Switzerland will be aiming to increase their lead at the top of Group E, when they take on Cyprus.

The Swiss will be hoping for an improvement on their showing against the same opponents back in March. That turned out to be a turgid affair, with the Swiss managing just three shots on target from 13 attempts, as they were held to a goalless draw in Cyprus.

That stalemate shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise. Not if you consider that every one of the Swiss side's group games have been low-scoring, with all five matches producing two goals or fewer. Plus the islanders had home advantage for that encounter.

Away from home though, the Cypriots appear to be considerably easier to open up. They have lost both their away games to date, going down 3-1 in Albania and, more recently, 2-1 in Slovenia. And now they must concede home advantage to a Swiss side who are currently Group E's highest scorers, and who last year scored five goals in a friendly victory over Germany.

Recommended Bet: Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.75


England U-21 V Norway U-21

England's youngsters need a much improved performance against Norway if they're to have any hope of qualifying from Group A of the Under-21 European Championships.

Their first outing, which ended in a 1-0 loss to Italy, was described even by their own manager, Stuart Pearce, as awful. And now England need preferably a win against Norway, or at the very least a draw, if they're to stay in the competition.

And that's the key factor, that a draw would still leave England with a realistic chance of progress, whereas defeat would be absolutely fatal. It's bound to make Pearce cautious in his approach to the game as he looks to grab a win without taking any big risks.

But Norway too could be taking the same approach. They earned a point from their opening draw with Israel, but will know that defeat would be a disaster for them, with the dangerous Italians still lying in wait. They too will want to pursue victory at a minimum of risk, while remaining aware that a draw would still leave them handily positioned and perhaps needing only a third straight draw to progress.

With so much caution around, a low-scoring encounter looks almost inevitable.

Recommended Bet: Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.94


Sunday

Brazil v France

Goals look on the cards in Rio as the Samba Boys look to find some tangible form ahead of hosting next year's World Cup. And boy do they need to find some form, given that Phil Scolari's side have now drawn their last four home games in a row.

Their biggest problem appears to be at the back, with England carrying on where Columbia, Russia, and Chile left off - as all four sides found the net en route to grabbing away draws.

But with both teams scoring in each of those games, the goals have still been flowing, producing two 2-2 draws and a couple of 1-1 draws. Throw in a 6-0 win over Iraq prior to that, and Brazil's last five games at home have actually been highly entertaining, harvesting 18 goals in total.

Given that Brazil almost always concede these days, it's easy to see a side as good as France also finding the net, just as they did in recent away games in Spain and Italy. And Brazil of course are sure to score themselves, and probably at least twice, just as they've done in five of their last seven home games.

Recommended Bet: Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.88


Benin v Algeria

It's all to play for in Group H of the African World Cup qualifiers, as third placed Benin play host to top of the table Algeria.

With just two points separating the top three teams, it means neither of these sides can afford to slip-up, especially with 2nd placed Mali looking nailed-on to punish the group's whipping boys Rwanda.

Given the situation, and Algeria's recent away form, you suspect they'd be quite happy to leave with a point. Of their last eight away fixtures in World Cup qualifiers, only one produced more than two goals. Three goalless draws and two 1-0 results among those games show you just how unambitious the Algerians tend to be on their travels.

The problem for goal-backers is that Benin are equally lacking in creativity. Of their last eight W.C. qualifiers at home, only two have been high scoring. Their only home game of this campaign ended in a 1-0 victory over Mali, and I suspect they'll be looking for more of the same on Sunday.

Again, not losing is the most important thing for both sides, meaning that for us, a low-scoring result has to be the way to go.

Recommended Bet: Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.8

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Keywords: Two and a Half Goals Column, Switzerland, Cyprus

Source: Betfair

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